Highlander Director’s Cut: 30th Anniversary Edition
Directed by Russell Mulcahy.
Starring Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown and Sean Connery.
“There can be only one.” Cult classic film Highlander arrives on Blu-ray and two-disc DVD in a new 30th Anniversary Edition that features new interviews with director Russell Mulcahy and star Christopher Lambert, along with a commentary with Mulcahy, a two-hour documentary, deleted scenes, and an archival interview with Lambert.
Highlander is a movie I hadn’t watched since I first saw it way back when, probably on cable or on VHS at a friend’s house, so I was intrigued to revisit it for this new 30th Anniversary Edition. I remember thinking at the time that it was a cool concept and a fun movie, but my jaded late-40s-year-old self now sees an uneven film, one that went for camp too many times.
The movie stars Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod, who lives in 1985 New York City but has been alive since the 1500s, when he discovered he was immortal and was trained in the sword arts by a fellow immortal, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery). The story opens with MacLeod defeating another immortal by decapitating him, which is the only way to kill one of their kind. He leaves evidence behind, of course, and soon Brenda Wyatt, a police detective, crosses paths with him during her investigation.
Meanwhile, another immortal known as the Kurgan has arrived in modern day New York City to confront MacLeod because they’re the last two immortals and, of course, “there can be only one” in the end. The Kurgan is a menacing figure who has a past history with MacLeod, but unfortunately many of his scenes devolve into camp during acts two and three, and that’s where a movie that was set up with such gravitas begins to lose its way. It’s not a terrible film, but it could have been better.
I would be curious to see screenwriter Gregory Widen’s original draft, which he talks about in the two-hour documentary that’s the centerpiece of disc two in this two-DVD set. (Yes, I was sent the DVD set, not the Blu-ray, for this review. Even the PR firm was a bit befuddled by that.) He notes that his script, which he wrote while paying his way through UCLA as a firefighter, was more serious than the final film, although he says that much of what he wrote ended up on the screen.
Peter Bellwood, who re-wrote Widen’s draft with Larry Ferguson, chimes in too to talk about his involvement in the film. The discussion with the two of them (filmed separately) takes up the first part of the documentary. The second part features director of photography Gerry Fisher and Allan Cameron, the set decorator, who discuss the look and feel of the movie. Roxanne Hart, who plays Wyatt, talks about her involvement in the third part, and producer William N. Panzer’s insights comprise the fourth segment.
The entire documentary is a thorough look at the making of the movie from start to finish, and it’s certainly something the fans will enjoy. It was created in 2006 and previously showed up in a European Blu-ray release of the film. By the way, the version of the movie in this release is the director’s cut that features MacLeod during World War II, among other restored scenes.
Disc two also features about six minutes of deleted footage, some in black-and-white and some in color. It was discovered while Studio Canal was putting together a restored print, but it has no audio, so they put music over it. Some of it is just extra footage from the opening wrestling scene and the final battle, but there’s also what seems to be a heartfelt scene between MacLeod and Rachel, his secretary who he saved when she was a child during World War II, along with some extra footage with MacLeod and Wyatt. It would have been nice to at least see the dialogue on the screen during those scenes, or an introduction by Mulcahy.
A nine-minute interview with Lambert, which is in French with English sub-titles, rounds out the second disc, along with the theatrical trailer. The first disc includes new interviews with Lambert and Mulcahy, each of which is about 20 minutes, along with a commentary by the director. Mulcahy’s commentary track will be of interest to fans, although I’ve read that Panzer and fellow producer Peter Davis recorded a commentary that’s supposed to be pretty good. I’m not familiar with Highlander‘s history on home video, so I’m not sure where it can be found.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★